Gunmen kill Saudi diplomat in Pakistan's Karachi

Mon May 16, 2011 6:43am EDT
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By Faisal Aziz and Sheree Sardar

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Gunmen on motorcycles shot and killed a Saudi diplomat in the Pakistani city of Karachi on Monday, police and the Saudi ambassador said, the second attack on the mission since the killing of Osama bin Laden increased tension in the region.

Pakistan's Taliban claimed responsibility, and warned the United States against attacking its close ally al Qaeda.

Al Qaeda has waged a bloody campaign to topple the royal family and government of Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of its leader bin Laden. The group has also vowed to avenge his killing by U.S. special forces in a Pakistani military town on May 2.

Four people riding motorcycles opened fire on the Saudi diplomat's car, a Karachi police official said. The diplomat, a low ranking security official, was on his way to the consulate when the assailants struck.

Pakistan's interior minister condemned the attack and ordered Karachi authorities to provide "complete security" to Saudi nationals stationed in the city, where analyst say militants generate funds through extortion and robberies.

"We condemn this attack. No one who carries out this kind of attack can be a Muslim," the Saudi ambassador, Abdul Aziz al-Ghadeer, told Reuters. Four bullets were fired and one struck the diplomat in the head, said senior Karachi police official Iqbal Mehmood.

The Saudi state news agency named the diplomat as Hassan al-Qahtani and described his killing as a "criminal attack." It said Saudi officials would investigate the shooting alongside the Pakistani authorities.

The shooting, which a Saudi embassy official said occurred about 60 meters (200 feet) from the consulate, came days after unidentified attackers threw two hand grenades at the consulate in Pakistan's commercial hub. No one was hurt in that attack.   Continued...